• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Saterfrisian
  • Afrikaans
Show all
Other constructions

Other constructions involving modification and degree quantification are:

  • Litotes

    Litotes is the expression of a property by the negation of its antonym (contrary), for example:.

    Pieter, wat self nie onaantreklik was nie
    Pieter, that.REL self not unattractive be.PRT PTCL.NEG
    Pieter, who was not unattractive himself (= quite handsome)
  • Pronominalisation

    In a conjunct phrase, reference is made anaphorically to an adjective occurring in the first phrase, for example:

    Die huis is heeltemal koel, en dit sonder lugreëling.
    this house be.PRS completely cool and it without airconditioning
    The house is quite cool, and that without air.conditioning.
  • Comparative with AP object of comparison

    Equative constructions establish an identity relation between two elements with respect to some kind of degree, for example:

    Die een is so gek soos die ander.
    the one be.PRS PTCL.SIMT crazy PTCL.SIMT the other
    The one is as crazy as the other. = Both are equally crazy.
  • Exclamative

    Exclamatives are characteristically used to express an unspecified high degree interpretation, as in the following example:

    Hoe opwindend word die reis nou!
    how exciting becomes the journey now
    How exciting the journey is becoming!


Modification and degree quantification of adjectives are also manifested in various other ways, which are discussed below.


Litotes is a figure of speech, the trope by which a positive property is expressed by the negation of its antonym, which normally denotes a negatively valued property. This means that the negative property is reversed, resulting in a positive judgment. In this sense, it is a form of double negation which, unlike compounded negation in Afrikaans (for example nie + PTCL.NEG), cancels the negative interpretation and reinforces the positive counterpart.

'n goeie spreker, en nie onervare in die politiek nie
a good speaker, and not inexperienced in the politics PTCL.NEG
a good speaker, and not inexperienced in politics (= quite experienced)

While this type of negation may also simply cancel the negative interpretation, the neutral, or latent positive interpretation is often reinforced by means of modifiers such as glad (nie) altogether (not):

Die media is glad nie ongeneë om publisiteit daaraan te verleen nie.
the media be.PRS not altogether disinclined for.COMP publicity there.to PTCL.INF give.INF PTCL.NEG
The media are not at all disinclined (= quite willing) to give publicity to it.

Further reinforcement is possible by adding the modifier te too:

Vakansie by die see klink glad nie te onaanvaarbaar nie.
Holiday by the sea sounds altogether not too unacceptable PTCL.NEG
Holiday at the sea does not not sound unacceptable al all (= great)


An adjective, once used in an AP, can anaphorically be pronominalised in a subsequent clause (very often an infinitival clause), as in the examples below, where in the first case, the pronoun dit it refers to the adjective ryk rich, and in the second to ongehoord unheard-of:

Hy was ryk, en dit sonder om 'n steek werk te doen.
he be.PRT rich, and it without for.COMP a stitch work PTCL.INF do.INF
He was rich, and without doing a stitch of work at that.
So iets was mos ongehoord, en dit nogal in die kleine Ottosdal.
PTCL.REL thing be.PRS surely unheard-of, and this no.less in the small Ottosdal
Something like this was unheard of, and in the little (town of) Ottosdal at that.

Equative with AP object of comparison

Equative constructions may pertain to various elements being compared, for example two nouns which are related on the basis of a particular adjective, or two adjectives which are equated with reference to a noun. An example of the first type follows:

Kinta is net so gaaf soos haar man.
Kinta be.PRS just PTCL.SIMT kind PTCL.SIMT her husband
Kinta is just as kind as her husband.

An example of the second type:

Die stad is vierkantig, net so lank as wat hy breed is.
the city be.PRS square, just PTCL.SIMT long PTCL.SIMT that.REL he wide be.PRS
The city is a square, as long as it is wide.

Equatives may also be used as high degree intensifiers in a comparison with reference to an AP object:

Die maatskappy se produksies is net so goed en beter as die gemiddelde.
the company PTCL.GEN productions be.PRS just PTCL.SIMT good and better PTCL.SIMT the average
The company's productions are just as good and better than the average.

When a comparison is drawn on the basis of a known characteristic associated with a noun referent, fixed expressions of comparison may occur, as in

Hy is so mal soos 'n haas.
he be.PRS PTCL.SIMT mad PTCL.SIMT a hare
He is mad as a hatter.


An AP used in an exclamative expression to express a high degree interpretation may take the form of a positive exclamation, as in:

Hoe groot is U!
how big be.PRS you
How great Thou art!

However, they are mostly couched in a negative predicative:

Hoe spannend is dié boek nie!
how thrilling be.PRS this book not
What a thrilling book!

The conditions for the use of the double negative also apply here, such as the presence of a complex predicate or adverbial modifier:

Hoe oulik kan hy nie al praat nie!
how cute can.AUX.MOD he not already talk PTCL.NEG
How cute he can talk already!
    printreport errorcite